By Janis Russell; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report
June 18, 2014 (La Mesa)- An overflow crowd filled Council Chambers and spilled outside at last night’s La Mesa Planning Commission meeting on the controversial Park Station project, a multi-use development proposed at Baltimore and Nebo Drive. Kitzman, the developer, has scaled down original plans from 18 stories to 11, still well over double the height limit for the area. The new plan also eliminates a park and makes other changes.
Testimony ran on for over to four hours, with 23 speakers opposed and 26 in favor (most from outside La Mesa). The evening ended with a shocker, when Lenny Guccione, business manager for the American Legion – the project’s co-applicant-- criticized the project as “too big” for the neighborhood, then abruptly announced withdrawal of the American Legion’s support and walked out.
The announcement stunned planners and project backers. A recess was swiftly called, after which Sherman Harmer with Urban Housing Partners admitted the American Legion’s withdrawal came as a “total shock” to the applicant.
The Planning Commission voted 7-0 to close the public hearing and end public input on the project. Following internal discussion and staff input, a new meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, July 16 at 7 p.m.